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Going to Bat Dallas lawyer Stephen Kennedy is a big baseball fan who has coached Little League teams for two sons. He’s also a lawyer representing four teams in the Texas Collegiate Baseball League � a wood bat, summer league for college baseball players based in Fort Worth � that are embroiled in a dispute with the league and its owners. Kennedy, of counsel at Sessions Lambert Selwyn, represents the Denton Outlaws, the Duncanville Deputies, the Colleyville Lonestars and the Wichita Falls Roughnecks in a federal suit filed Sept. 14 against the league and its owners. In Jim Leslie, et al. v. Texas Collegiate Baseball League Ltd., the plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that they have not violated the Sherman Act, �15 of the U.S. Code; that they have the right to use artwork and trademarks created by their teams; that they properly terminated their agreements with the TCBL; and that they didn’t breach any agreements with the TCBL. That suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in response to a suit the TCBL filed in August in state district court in Tarrant County against the four teams Kennedy represents, plus the Coppell Copperheads, the Mineral Wells Steam and the Weatherford Wranglers. In Texas Collegiate Baseball League Ltd. v. Jim Leslie, et al., the league alleges the seven teams breached a contract by attempting to withdraw from the league “absent significant changes in league ownership and operations.” In the petition, the league also seeks a temporary restraining order to prohibit the defendants from forming or participating in another college baseball summer league “or from otherwise absconding with the TCBL Concept and league.” In the petition, the TCBL alleges the teams and their principals have banded together to engage in an illegal group boycott in violation of �15.05 of the Texas Business & Commerce Code. Darrell Keith, an attorney for Gerald Haddock, the chairman and chief executive officer of the league, says the “renegade teams,” by attempting to withdraw from the league and by suing it, are trying to “put a gun to the head” of the Haddock Foundation, which operates the TCBL. “We believe they are engaging in an unlawful boycott,” says Keith of the Keith Law Firm in Fort Worth. Creuzot-Town In a scene-stealing high point of the 1974 noir-ish-flick “Chinatown,” private dick Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) tries to unravel the riddle of the film by slapping Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) in an attempt to get her to fess up to her knowledge about a young woman who Mulwray seems to be protecting or paying off. “She’s my daughter [Gittes slaps her hard] . . . my sister [Gittes slaps her again]. . . . She’s my daughter [another slap] . . . my sister [slap] . . . my daughter [and another]. She’s my sister and my daughter!” Well, Judge John Creuzot of Dallas County Criminal District Court No. 4 may have felt similar slaps, from a political perspective, that is, as he has gone about his 16-year judicial career. “I’m a Democrat [slapped by Dallas County Republican judicial rout of 1992]. . . . I’m a Republican [slapped by Democratic judicial rout of 2006]. . . . I’m a Democrat” � or so it seemed on Sept. 20, when he announced he was returning to the Democratic Party. “Honestly, I think I could get elected as a Republican, but I feel more comfortable as a Democrat,” says Creuzot in an interview. “Fact of the matter is, we are required to run on a partisan basis, which is unfortunate because we don’t conduct ourselves in a partisan manner on the bench.” First appointed to a criminal district bench when then-Gov. Ann Richards made him a judge in 1991, he ran as a Democrat in 1992 and won, one of the last Dems standing in Dallas County at the time. But the Republican bandwagon proved too strong, and he switched parties rather than lose his bench in 1996. He successfully ran for re-election as a Republican in 2000 and 2004. Comes now the 2008 election cycle and he is back in the Democratic fold. Creuzot, apart from being a ground-breaking jurist, is nothing if not a political realist. His back-and-forth seems little problem for members of the Democratic establishment, some of whom came out for the press conference announcing his return. But don’t expect every Yellow Dog Democrat to sit idly by without calling Creuzot to task for his flip-floppery. Dallas attorney Hiram McBeth III says he will challenge Creuzot in the Democratic primary. BP Suits Settle Two weeks into the first civil trial stemming from the deadly explosion at the BP Texas City refinery, the plaintiffs and BP negotiated settlements, ending the trial that could have lasted six to eight weeks. Plaintiffs’ lawyer Brent Coon, of Brent Coon & Associates in Beaumont, and BP spokesman Neal Chapman say terms of the settlements, finalized the night of Sept. 17, are confidential. The trial of one group of plaintiffs’ claims in Miguel Arenazas, et al. v. BP Amoco Chemical Co. began Sept. 4 in 212th District Judge Susan Criss’ court in Galveston. Suits filed by the plaintiffs in the BP litigation have been consolidated in Arenazas in Criss’ court and are scheduled for trial in several groups over the coming months. Coon says the settlements are fair: “The amounts were fair amounts for what these people went through,” he says, noting that both sides made recent concessions during settlement talks that have been ongoing since the trial began. The four plaintiffs were contractors at the refinery in March 2005 and alleged they were injured in the blast. The explosion killed 15 people. Chapman says London-based BP, which has set aside $1.6 billion to pay claims, has settled with more than 1,600 individuals, and about 1,200 claims are outstanding. Coon, who leads the plaintiffs’ steering team, says BP has settled with about 200 of his clients, and fewer than a dozen of his firm’s clients have outstanding claims against BP. The next trial setting is in October, but Chapman says Criss set a scheduling conference for Sept. 24. Not a single BP suit filed over the explosion has gone to a jury verdict. In November 2006, plaintiff Eva Rowe, whose parents were among the 15 killed in the explosion, settled with BP for a confidential amount, averting a trial in Criss’ court. Rowe’s case received a lot of press coverage, because BP agreed as part of the settlement to donate at least $32 million to various charities and to industrial safety training programs.

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